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Bob Herbert writes, "So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home."

Portrait, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, 06/15/09. (photo: NYT)
Portrait, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, 06/15/09. (photo: NYT)

Losing Our Way

By Bob Herbert, The New York Times

26 March 11

So here we are pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously demolishing school budgets, closing libraries, laying off teachers and police officers, and generally letting the bottom fall out of the quality of life here at home.

Welcome to America in the second decade of the 21st century. An army of long-term unemployed workers is spread across the land, the human fallout from the Great Recession and long years of misguided economic policies. Optimism is in short supply. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle-class standard of living.

Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

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+23 # MidwestTom 2011-03-26 11:46
All this is true and apparently necessary to the NYC bankers who want to rule the world. Their first step was to buy both political parties, then transfer real decision making to non-elected parties like the Committee for Foreign Relations, and the privately owned Federal Reserve, and then make sure that judges are appointed that agree with their takeover; judges that agree that the constitution is a ever changing document.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2011-03-26 12:54
Constitution is not Changed, American People have.

For all the Unemployed, where are they? Why aren't they Marching? Where are the Unions? You hear about some but where are these Marches of Solidarity?

People want Change, than they have to get off their lazy butts and do something about it. They speak ill of Middle East but here these People are fighting back.
They speak ill of Japan and here these people have dug in their feet and resolved to rebuild.

Where are our tching at some bar? I am not impressed. Most expect us to do the work for them...They are Moochers like the Welfare System who they also bad mouth, but look at you all, just sitting there 'watchin Oprie Dorpie' or some Fascist News Station. You do not have a job because you bought from Foriegn Companies You do not deserve to work if you do not Buy American, thought you were teaching America a Lesson? GOP are too stupid to pay attention and too Rich to have to.

Why I care to comment, only intelligent people come here and we are fighting, well, most of us are.
+5 # DaveW 2011-03-27 11:09
Kittatinyhawk, I share your passion to see injustice attacked but your anger is deluding the message. "Constitution not changed,America n people have." The Constitution was written to ensure a two-tiered system designed to protect the elites at the expense of everyone else.It's plain enough if you read it and pair it with its brother "The Naturalization Act of 1790." "Where are the tching at some bar." No doubt some are.Also no doubt that many more are sitting someplace wringing their hands in desperation, endlessly putting in job applications,mo ving back home with parents or family,looking at the faces of hungry children, etc.You "paint" one sided picture that fits in all too well with Conservative ideology and "Horatio Alger" pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality.
"You do not have a job because you bought from foreign companies." "You do not deserve to work if you do not buy American,though t you were teaching America a lesson." This is patently absurd.I don't shop at Wal-Mart or a variety of other outlets/chains because I have investigated their hiring practices,worke r treatment,their destruction of small businesses through the "big box" syndrome.Many Americans simply can't AFFORD to do that.Their options are limited to the money they have and the necessities of life. "Only intelligent come here." Intelligence sans compassion is counter-product ive.
+18 # angelfish 2011-03-26 13:06
How is it that the Minority Party is allowed to CONTINUE to ride rough-shod over Americans? They defy the restraining order in Wisconsin preventing them from emasculating the Unions and are IMPERIAL in their contempt for the working and Unemployed men and women of this, once great, Country! HOW can they continue to favor Corporations over People? Oh, that's right, they had their Supreme Court declare Corporations People so I suppose that makes it alright? I don't think so! If it doesn't have a heartbeat, it ISN'T a person in any TRUE sense of the word! Wake Up, America. They are eating, not only our sack lunch, but our breakfast and dinner as well! Encourage your States to RECALL these rogue Corporatists and give America back to the People who made her great!
+13 # des 2011-03-26 14:31
Thank you Bob Herbert for a job well done. Best wishes for your writing and social activist future.

This column says it all.
+11 # X Dane 2011-03-26 15:47
To KittatinyHawk.
Not ALL are intelligent. I have seen incredibly stupid comments here, but the majority is.

To angelfish.
The minority, is not "allowed to ride rough shod" They get so MUCH MONEY from the corporations that they can PAY to PUSH their bad, destructive messages again, again, again and again, to the point where all the many, who do not take the time to be informed, believe them. For that is,-- if not all,-- most of what they hear. In addition, if all they WATCH is Fox............ ..There is not much hope for them. (or us)
Frank Luntz is a terrible weapon the right wing has. He is their MESSAGE MASHINE
When you hear the SAME WORDED negative message repeated Constantly by representatives , senators, and aspiring presidents. You KNOW that Luntz is behind it. Many Fox viewer are like sheep, they blindly follow messages. TO THE DETRIMENT OF US ALL.
+6 # Activista 2011-03-26 18:26
Great two paragraphs - there are no promises - am glad that I am author age.

GREED, MONEY CULTURE, WARS (all related) destroyed everything.
Almost wish that Humane Race vanished fast - so more intelligent animals survive and establish some equilibrium.
+2 # DaveW 2011-03-27 10:38
Activista, "Almost wish that Human Race vanished fast-so more intelligent animals survive and establish some equilibrium." You're one of the few people, other than myself, I have seen making a statement such as this. I think about it often. And then I remember I have two daughters in their twenties who no doubt would like to live a bit longer. I'm willing and have, fought tooth and nail to preserve what little of the crumbs thrown our way. But I'm becoming, like you I suspect, increasing fatalistic and trying to come to terms with the notion that the "bad guys", unlike virtually everything we've been taught, do indeed "win" sometimes. They're winning right now. And to be breaks my heart. I detected that feeling in Herbert's column as well. I wish him well.
+3 # X Dane 2011-03-28 01:36
Dave, I agree with both your comments. KittatinyHawk you are much too harsh. I doubt the people out of work has the money for going to bars! I heard a few days ago, that we have 50 MILLIONS who go hungry. That is incredible, and a disgrace. We are often told that we are a rich country???

SOME sure are; but there are obviously way too many who are suffering, and not because they are not buying American. that's simplistic, and simply dead wrong.

Many lost their job, through no fault of their own. You are out of work for several months, even years as some are, and you will also lose your home. So a lot of families are homeless. It is a tragedy, and not their fault, Have some compassion.
0 # rf 2011-03-27 06:14
Good old Obama and Clintons strike again...who needs Republicans when you've got Democrats like these!
+2 # Adoregon 2011-03-27 14:17
Shiploads indeed.

Welcome to life on the "American plantation." a la Ferdinand Lundberg in his book, "The Rich and the Super Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today."

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